Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos isn’t a fan of the phrase “work-life balance.”
At an April awards event hosted by Axel Springer and Business Insider US editor in chief Alyson Shontell, Bezos revealed the counterintuitive advice he offers new Amazon employees.
Bezos believes that his new hires should stop attempting to achieve “balance” within their professional and personal lives, since that implies a strict trade-off between the two. Instead, Bezos envisions a more holistic relationship between work and life outside the office.
Historically, the world’s richest man has a nontraditional approach to work: He makes time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and still sets aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.
This counterintuitive approach to maintaining a healthy symmetry within his professional and personal pursuits is one of the chief pieces of advice Bezos offers his staff.
“This work-life harmony thing is what I try to teach young employees and actually senior executives at Amazon too. But especially the people coming in,” he said. “I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies there’s a strict trade-off.”
Instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act, Bezos said that it’s more productive to view them as two integrated parts.
“It actually is a circle. It’s not a balance,” Bezos said.
Bezos said that the relationship between his work life and personal life is reciprocal, and that he doesn’t compartmentalize them into two competing time constraints.
“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” said Bezos. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. You never want to be that guy — and we all have a coworker who’s that person — who, as soon as they come into a meeting, they drain all the energy out of the room … You want to come into the office and give everyone a kick in their step.”